From 1994 to 1999, the Manitoba provincial government introduced standardized tests at the Grade 3, 6, 9, and 12 levels in all four core subject areas, Mathematics, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies.
When the government changed in 1999, it dramatically changed this assessment policy. Grade 3 examinations were abolished, while the administration of Grades 6 and 9 examinations was made optional for school divisions.
The Grade 3 examinations were replaced with a subjective teacher-directed assessment in reading and numeracy conducted at the beginning of the school year.
This style of assessment has proven to be extremely time-consuming and does not provide the government with objective data on student performance.
Some school divisions, such as Winnipeg School Division #1, have taken the individual assessment process even further and have found themselves embroiled in labour strife as a result of opposition from teachers.
In 2004, the government announced that it was eliminating the optional standards exams for Grades 6 and 9 and replacing them with assessments similar to those conducted at the Grade 3 level.
A report commissioned by the provincial government has recommended that these assessments also be conducted at the Grades 7 and 8 levels.
Since the curricula at these grade levels are more complex than the curriculum for Grade 3, these individual student assessments will likely prove to be even more burdensome.
Valuable class time at the beginning of the school year is lost when teachers are forced to administer time-consuming and subjective assessments.
The government should cancel its plans to implement subjective assessments at the middle level and instead reinstate objective year-end examinations in core subject areas.